A recent study was conducted on more than three thousand patients found to be at risk of developing diabetes. These patients were all participants in the Diabetes Prevention Program, a controlled trial that showed the benefits an at-risk patient could experience as a result of either taking metformin or modifying their lifestyle. Although none of the participants had been diagnosed with diabetes, many of them were exhibiting impairments in their body’s ability to metabolize blood sugar. The results of the study showed that metformin and lifestyle modification are both highly beneficial forms of treatment, with some variations in the effects of each.
Results of the Study
The study was split into three primary groups. Some participants only mildly varied their lifestyles while taking a standard dose of metformin. Other participants modified their lifestyles in the same fashion, but were given placebos. The last group did not take any medication at all, but modified their lifestyles to a greater extent. After the trial was completed, patients were followed up for an average of three years. It was found that patients’ diabetes progression was slowed by between 31% (metformin) and 58% (lifestyle modification).
The benefits of metformin were most notable in patients whose risk was greatest, although such patients also proved more likely to benefit from treatment in general. One of the more surprising arms of the research was that of the patients who were at the lowest risk of developing diabetes later in life. Those who fit into this category were actually more showed a greater likelihood to be diagnosed with diabetes than people who were in the control group, although this difference was relatively negligible.
While the results were ultimately varied, it appeared that only patients who were at the greatest risk of developing diabetes were likely to experience a particularly notable risk reduction as a result of taking metformin. This does not mean that metformin is ineffective, but rather that those who are at low risk simply do not have as great a need for treatment through medication.
Lifestyle Modification Benefits
Much like metformin, lifestyle modification produced varied results that appeared to depend largely upon the risk level of the patient. It is worth noting, however that those who were at the lowest risk still experienced a relatively significant risk reduction as a result of lifestyle modification. Their ability to deal with diabetes-related hazards was not necessarily deemed any better, but their overall baseline risks were significantly reduced. In other words, the patient’s overall health was benefitted by the adoption of various lifestyle modifications.
This indicates that, while lifestyle modification may not be able to counteract sudden spikes in blood sugar or dangerously low glucose levels, it can still help to prevent diabetes by improving the overall physical health of an at-risk patient. In the long term, this could have great effects on a patient’s ability to stave off the onset of diabetes. If a patient wishes to avoid costly or inefficient treatments, then lifestyle modification could be the wiser (if more disciplined) approach.